Tokyo Paralympics, Day 2:
Mathewson wins, Wagner rallies
Victoria Chiesa | August 28, 2021
The two top-ranked Americans in action in singles at the Tokyo Olympics came away with first-round victories on Saturday, though in contrasting fashion.
No. 5 quad singles seed David Wagner rallied from a set down to beat Brazil's Ymanitu Silva, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 while women's singles No. 8 seed Dana Mathewson surrendered just three games to beat France's Charlotte Fairbank. Eleven double faults and 34 unforced errors from the Frenchwoman helped Mathewson's cause in the 63-minute victory, advancing her to a second-round meeting with Thailand's Sakhorn Khanthasit.
“It feels great to have a first win under my belt,” Mathewson told the ITF after the match. “We’ve been prepping for Tokyo for five years now, and there’s a lot of build-up goes into it. Playing against one of my good friends adds an extra element of nerves – when it’s your friend, you think about it a little differently. ADVERTISEMENT I didn’t play as well as I want to play as the tournament progresses, but I think I played well today.”
Wagner opened his fifth Paralympic singles campaign with a scenic victory that lasted just short of two hours. After losing the first set, he never trailed again in the match: an early break in the second set gave him a 2-0 lead that he rode through to the finish, and he won four straight games from 1-1 in the second set. In Round 2, Wagner will face Japan's Koji Sugeno, who won his first round match over Kim Myung-je in a dominant double bagel.
Also rallying from a set down to advance was the men's doubles team of Casey Ratzlaff and Conner Stroud. The unseeded American pair dropped a tight first set to South Africans Leon Els and Evans Maripa before coming back to win, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2, in a marathon 2 hours, 47 minutes. They trailed 5-2 in the opening set before evening at 5-5, and ultimately broke serve five times across the second and third sets to advance.
However, Ratzlaff's singles campaign, which began with a first-round victory on Friday, ended with a 6-1, 6-1 loss to No. 3 seed Joachim Gerard of Belgium, a winner of two Grand Slam titles this year. Shelby Baron and Emmy Kaiser were also beaten in singles, with Baron losing out to Brazil's Meirycol Duval in a tight 6-4, 6-4 decision and Kaiser falling to China's Huang Jinlian, 6-1, 6-1.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the efforts that the team put up today. Some great battles by Shelby Baron and Emmy Kaiser against two really tough opponents but played with honor, strength and poise to represent Team USA," said head coach Jason Harnett. "That was followed by a great three-set win by David Wagner over a very stingy opponent from Brazil. David’s experience and justtremendous knowledge of how to navigate tough matches got him through into round two.
"Dana Mathewson had just a dominant performance over her French opponent to get into round two in the singles competition. At the end of the day, it was just an absolute epic battle between Casey and Conner and South Africa in the men's doubles division. And Casey and Conner came through with just an epic win in three sets, finishing well after midnight here in Tokyo. Just a fantastic finish to an overall just great day for Team USA.”
Bryan Barten's opening round quad singles match against Kim Kyu-Seung was postponed until Sunday. The winner of that match, scheduled last on Court 3, will advance to take on top seed and gold-medal favorite Dylan Alcott of Australia. In addition, Ratzlaff and Stroud will take on No. 7 seeds Daniel Caverzaschi and Martin de la Puente of Spian in the second round of doubles.
Photo courtesy of the International Tennis Federation.
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